University of New England - Innovation for a Healthier Planet

Ruth Moore collection, 1917-1995

Full finding aid (pdf)

Collection Scope and Content

This collection includes manuscripts of Moore’s post-1955 novels and poetry collections, as well as editor’s notes, advance copies and galleys of these works. Also included are scrapbooks and loose clippings of reviews and publicity, as well as fan mail and literary correspondence. The collection includes biographical material about Moore and some memorabilia.

Biographical/Historical Note

Ruth Moore (1903-1989) was the second of four children born to Philip and Lovina Moore of Gott’s Island, Maine. Moore was raised and attended grammar school on the island, but left at the age of 14 to attend high school in Ellsworth. Soon after finishing high school, she entered the State Teacher’s College in Albany, New York, graduating with a degree in English in 1925. Moore remained in New York after college, and her parents left Gott’s Island in 1927. For four years, starting in 1926 Moore worked as a secretary for NAACP founder Mary White Ovington. In 1936 she worked for novelist Alice Tisdale Hobart, and in 1942, she became editor at Reader’s Digest until 1947.

Living primarily in Greenwich Village (but also as far away as California), she moved in literary circles, and wrote primarily unpublished poetry during these years. Moore wrote a number of novels before publishing The Weir (W. Morrow and Co.) in 1943. Her second novel, Spoonhandle (1946), was turned into the movie Deep Waters by 20th Century Fox, the proceeds of which allowed her to buy land in Bass Harbor, but Moore ultimately disliked the results. From 1947 onward, Moore lived in Maine with her friend Eleanor Mayo. Moore had published 13 novels by 1979, including The Walk Down Main Street (1960), The Sea Flower (1965), and The Gold and Silver Hooks (1969).

Although she disliked the designation, Moore is considered a regional writer, often identified as the strongest one that Maine has produced. Her works are emotionally, politically, and socially complex reflections of life in small-town Maine, written with vivid descriptions of the landscape, and including local dialect. In addition to her novels, Moore published three compilations of poetry, including The Tired Apple (Blackberry Books) in 1990. Most of Moore’s novels have been re-released by Blackberry Books, and she enjoyed a resurgence of popularity in the late 1980s. In 1976, she received an honorary doctorate from Unity College. Moore died in Bass Harbor in 1989. A collection of her letters, titled High Clouds Soaring, Storms Driving Low: The Letters of Ruth Moore, was edited by Sanford Phippen and published by Blackberry Books in 1993.